In last week's episode, we broke down the players who could be available in an intriguing 2017 quarterback market. Now let's take a look at the teams that will be searching for a signal-caller.
*(Just wanting to mainline the 2016 season rankings at quarterback? Head to the bottom of the page.) *
Desperate for change
New York Jets: The nadir for Jets fans this season came during the "Monday Night Football" loss to the Colts, and it had nothing to do with blown coverage. It was the moment Jon Gruden suggested the Jets' best QB option for 2017 was re-signing Geno Smith. Even the President of Geno Nation (ahem) knows that's not going to happen, so the likely Week 1 starter is not currently on the roster. That sounds strange for a team currently starting a second-year player (Bryce Petty) with a second-round pick (Christian Hackenberg) on the bench. Both players are unproven at best, so the Jets are prime candidates to trade for or sign a veteran player. Don't rule out general manager Mike Maccagnan drafting another potential "quarterback of the future," a strategy he should employ every season until he finds one that sticks.
Chicago Bears: The Bearshaven't closed the door on Jay Cutler returning, which makes some sense for a team that could change head coaches. With that caveat out of the way, the entire season-ticket base could revolt if Cutler -- who went on injured reserve at the beginning of December after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 11 -- got a chance with a fourthBears head coach and seventh offensive coordinator.
The Bears could be starting from scratch, with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley both set to become free agents after the season. GM Ryan Pace will be able to use the team's exclusive negotiating window before free agency begins to sign one of them before looking for other arms via trade, free agency and the draft. This team is overdue to find a player to develop.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The collapse of Blake Bortles caught the entire organization flat-footed. GM Dave Caldwell said this week the coach who replaces the fired Gus Bradley won't be forced to play Blake Bortles, which is like saying fans who swim in the Jaguars' in-stadium pool next year won't be forced to wear ankle weights. Bortles is entering the final guaranteed year of his rookie deal and needs competition. Whether it comes from a veteran or a draft pick, Jacksonville should be in the market for a potential Week 1 starter. (Current backup Chad Henne doesn't qualify.) If Bortles can fix his mechanics and win the job over whomever Caldwell adds to the mix, consider that a good problem to have.
Cleveland Browns: I did this exercise a year ago, and the Browns are one of two teams to repeat in this most depressing tier. (The other team is up next.) The Robert Griffin III era should be over soon, so rookie Cody Kessler is the only current Browns quarterback likely to be on the roster next season. The former third-round pick is an underrated asset, a player we'd rather have over Petty or Hackenberg. Kessler may wind up starting for the Browns next season, but they need other options. It could come in the form of a veteran or a rookie. If they see a future franchise quarterback who could be had with one of their two top-10 draft picks, they'll take him. If not, Kessler might compete against a veteran and another mid-round rookie who enrolls in the Hue School.
San Francisco 49ers: Rolling with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert again this season went about as well as you'd expect. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Kaepernick will void his contract after the season, and Gabbert is headed for free agency. San Francisco is headed for one of the top two picks in the draft. While this isn't a class with a "can't miss" quarterback at the top, that's what we heard around this time last year, too. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz still went No. 1 and No. 2.
Work to do
Buffalo Bills: Change is expected in Buffalo. Whether it's coming at quarterback, coach or GM, only the Pegula family knows. If the 2017 Bills regime doesn't want to pay Tyrod Taylorfranchise-quarterback money, he could be available in a potential trade. That would leave the Bills starting over at the position yet again, with former first-rounder EJ Manuel also likely on the way out. Fourth-round pick Cardale Jones looked like a project in the preseason.
Houston Texans: Coach Bill O'Brien put his cards on the table this week, sticking with third-year pro Tom Savage -- thrust into his first action last week since December 2014 -- as his starting quarterback for the final games of a playoff run. The Brock Osweiler Experiment is on pause, but the Texans still owe him $16 million guaranteed next season, so he's likely not going anywhere.
One option for the Texans: Simply bring back Savage and Osweiler, an alternative that will appear more palatable if Savage plays well in the coming weeks. The Texans haven't selected a quarterback in the first three rounds during the 11 seasons GM Rick Smith has been in Houston. It's a mind-boggling stat bordering on malpractice, considering Smith's best quarterback throughout that run was Matt Schaub. Don't rule out another draft pick being added to the mix, and keep an eye on how O'Brien and Smith are getting along.
Denver Broncos:Trevor Siemian has shown enough this season to believe he can be a quality starter if supported with a competent offensive line and running game. The Broncos also have 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch waiting in the wings. Normally, that would be enough to say Denver is set, but John Elway doesn't mess around. This is not a young roster, and this is an organization that only measures success in Lombardi Trophies. Don't rule Denver out as a team that could make a surprise splash.
And now, the 2016 QB rankings. These are based on this season's play only.